‘Tough Little Birds But No Polar Bears’: Kite Photography at the South Pole

Ben Ruhe
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When Eric Muhs, a physics and geometry teacher at the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences, goes to the South Pole next December, he’ll do cosmic ray research dealing ultimately with the question: What is the fate of the universe? He’ll be there on behalf of the National Science Foundation’s ongoing Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program.

But in typical fashion for a teacher who in the past has had his students build rockets, electronic musical instruments, a one-person electric racing car, hovercraft, an FM radio station, trebuchets (Medieval gravity-powered siege engines), boomerangs, telescopes, clocks, an Internet weather station, and assorted Rube Goldberg machines, Muhs wants to involve his current classes in his forthcoming research on the White Continent. So he came to the Drachen Foundation and proposed a collaboration.

What he and Drachen cooked up was a kite aerial photography project, he to supply the students as builders of kites and photo rigs, the foundation to supply the expertise and modest funding. It seems a perfect science engineering project-----easy to do, inexpensive, refreshing because everyone likes to look at images from a new perspective.

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